Back in the Eighties there was a fabulous animated version of The Wind In The Willows, featuring David Jason as Toad. I bought quite a few sets as gifts for children and adults, I thought they were hilarious. I’ve no idea where any of them are now, and as they were all on VHS I couldn’t play them anyway. But one episode I remember particularly involved Toad of Toad Hall getting into photography.
“Click, click, click”, he said. “Photography is just the latest thing, the ONLY thing!” Obviously it all went horribly wrong, but that was Toad’s role in life – discover a fad, throw money at it, screw it up, get caught by the Weasels and rescued by Badger.
But it does illustrate a common prejudice about photography. Until I started the Chain Gang I was very much part of the ‘point and click’ school of photography. As a bricklayer might say to a painter, if you can pee, you can take photos.
But trying to find photos to use on our website or in our brochure is next to impossible. We have access to the archives of the National Tourist Offices of both France and Italy, as well as web-based photograph libraries and our own photos. But no matter what you do, when we’re cycling we don’t look cool. Rain jackets are a no no, and I try to avoid the appearance of too many hills. I don’t like clouds, and it’s nice to imagine we might have pictures of cool and pretty people always looking manicured in the sunshine enjoying themselves. But you try, it just never, ever works out.
But I’m from the Toad school of click, click, click. Some people know what they’re doing, people like Paul Lawrence and Simon Moss, and the King brothers, Toby and Ben. Another one is Peter Wesolowski, a cycling nut and an all round good bloke, although we did have the occasional ‘discussion’ on the difference between tax (me) and essential services (Pete). He thinks they’re the same thing.
Pete brought along a little compact camera – although the way he wields it and sets his shots up you suspect he has some serious kit back home. We’d be cycling along, and there’d be Pete lying in a ditch trying to get an angle. But his pictures are just much better than mine. So I’ve set up an album on our Flickr site so that you can enjoy his photographs too.
For some of them, you had to be there. For example, Sasha leading the group out – some people who were there will think Pete’s used Photoshop for that one! And people smiling cycling up a hill? But that’s why Pete’s better than me. I hope you enjoy them – I’ve included a few examples at low-resolution here, but for the real deal have a look at Peter’s album on the Chain Gang Flickr page.
Click here to see a gallery of these photos, and more from The Chain Gang on the Chain Gang Flickr page